Lousro was heading in the direction the ship should be. He was making slow progress. Toydarians were made to fly, not walk. He grumbled under his breath about slow healing wings and reached out through the Force to try to sense Ao again. To his annoyance, the only thing that came calling was the Dark Side. Pulling away from the connection before he was tempted to fall into old habits he continued on his way. Continue reading
This episode has a general spoiler warning. There are minor spoilers for multiple series.
There are bigger spoilers for The Sword of Shannara.
Intro music: Cataclysmic Molten Core by Jingle Punks
Intro voice: Michael Connelly
In this episode, we open up talking about vampires because vampires and discuss some of the literary and historical reasons they stick around in media and culture. After talking about fantasy series we talk about the cyberpunk and post-apocalypse genres. Near the end, we talk about stories we are working on.
We talk about or mention the following list of books (and anime and tv series and video games and movies).
- Aeronauts Windlass
- Ancient Magus’ Bride
- Bladerunner 2049
- Codex Alaria
- Dragonriders of Pern
- Dresden Files
- Fallout: New Vegas
- Inheritance Cycle
- King Killer Chronicles
- The Sword of Shannara
- Vampire Diaries
- The WINX Club
- The Wheel of Time
[First half is an excerpt from Fractured Mountains Chapter 5.]
The Commander led his legion of clockwork minions into the Dark Under. They entered just south of The Fount of The Gods. The tunnel lead to a dwarven citadel, that was destroyed and overrun. When the clockwork army arrived at the citadel The Commander walked to a group of dwarves to confer with them. Continue reading
“You know the likelyhood of the first planet we visit being The World of Souls is astronomically small, right?”
“I know, but I’m going to send the pictures to Elinog to check.” Blavet hit send and the tablet showed an icon of an ancient cell tower with a red x over it. It read ‘signal not found’. “Oh. No signal in the cave. I guess we can finish in here first.”
“No, go out and send the message then continue getting samples. I’ll get a few more while you do that.” Allie returned to picking mushrooms and getting samples of other flora.
Nodding at Allie’s sage advice Blavet returned to the mouth of the cave. Once there he sent the message and waited for Elinog to respond to him.
– – –
There was a beeping noise coming from Elinog’s comm as he extricated himself from Janine. “Hold on. Gotta get that. Probably the boss calling to see if we’re still hard at work.”
Janine grabbed her clothes off the floor of the shuttle and hurriedly put them on. “Or they’re on the way back. They were rounding it off with a cave somewhere.”
The screen on the comm took a moment to light up. “I might need to grab a new one from the rack. This one’s a little laggy.” He opened the message from Blavet. “Whoa. Those are some big scratch marks.”
Elinog’s shirt collided with his face and during the struggle to get it off of his giant, salaman eyes Janine took his comm. “Those may be more than scratches. Get dressed. We have some cave walls to examine.”
“Fine, but we continue this later.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Janine tossed the comm back to Elinog, her bulbous fingers sending it in a weird spiral.
– – –
Allie splashed water at Blavet from the stream in the center of the cave. They had been waiting around for half an hour and she was getting bored.
“Oh, that’s how you want to play it?” Blavet pulled his water bottle from his satchel and held it, cap towards her. “Don’t make me do it!” Allie splashed him again. “You’ve done it now!” He took the cap off the bottle and started chasing after Allie. “Get back here!”
By the time Elinog and Janine arrived on the scene both Allie and Blavet were soaked with water and lying on the floor of the cave, exhausted.
Taking in the scene Elinog decided to just start setting up the lights. “Hey, we’re here. I’ll start setting up the lights and you guys go help Janine. We brought the lander over, it’s all fixed up now.”
“Your shirt’s on backwards.” Allie said as she rushed by Elinog to help Janine with equipment. “With those big eyes I would’ve thought you’d notice.”
Blavet grinned at Elinog. “So, we do all the work and you guys play?”
Elinog rolled his large eyes. “Oh, and you didn’t?”
“We just splashed water at each other. Nothing more. I can tell by the state your clothes are in that you did a lot more.”
“Stow it captain. We’ve got work to do.” Elinog tossed a light stand at Blavet. “These lights are a two person job.”
The light stand was deftly caught by Blavet’s tail and he began working on the lighting with Elinog. “Just keep your mind on the task at hand,” Blavet murmured.
“I said stow it!”
“That was to me, not you.”
– – –
Allie saw Janine straightening her light jacket before trying to lift up a large case. “This thing is heavier than I thought.”
“I think the gravity here is stronger than ship gravity.” Allie grabbed one end of the box. “Here, let me help.”
Janine picked up the other end of the box and they carried it into the cave. The writing surprised her and she almost dropped her end of the box. “Those look a lot different in the picture. Those scratches are not random.”
“Isn’t this going to just look the same as the pictures Blavet took?”
The box was gently set down next to a large stand with no lights on it. “No, this is a holo-cam. This should be able to register the depth of the scratches. Then we can run it through our database. If that comes up with nothing we’ll send it to SECO to have them check it.” Janine saw the questioning look in Allie’s eyes. “We’ll send it to them either way. I just want to see if we can send it with information. They may not tell us if they find something out. We’ll move on to the next solar system either way.”
Blavet and Elinog finished the last light setup and hurried over to help with the holo-cam. The device was larger than it probably needed to be. The technology had existed for centuries, but the size hadn’t decreased any noticable amount.
“This thing is large, but it’s pretty light.” Blavet was holding onto part of the holo-cam with his tail in addition to his hands.
“Yeah. It’s mostly just awkward. That’s why it comes with a stand like this.” Elinog carefully followed Janine’s lead. Making sure not to tilt the cam while Allie screwed it to the base.
Allie crawled out from under the holo-cam. “All done.” She handed a hex-key to Elinog.
“When did you take this?”
“When you weren’t looking.”
“Raven’s will be raven’s I suppose.” There was teasing in Elinog’s voice.
“I don’t expect lizards to understand.” Allie’s voice carried the same tone.
Janine sighed. “I know you guys are comfortable with each other, but those are still speciest phrases.”
The holo-cam took a few button presses to get started then the four of them stood away from the side facing the scratch marks. Allie made to leave the cave before it started.
“Hold on. Everyone who was present is supposed to be in any holo we send to SECO.” Blavet hooked his tail under one of Allie’s arms and pulled her back towards the holo-cam.
“Fine.” Allie faced away from the holo-cam as it took the holo, rotating slowly. “There. I was present.”
“Don’t like holo’s or something?” Janine asked as she sent the holo file to her datapad.
“They never capture my feathers right. Something about not having that fine of detail. I don’t like it.”
“Let’s pack up and get back to the Dominiot. If AB-775’s update is finished it will be simple to dock. Otherwise we’ll have to match speed first.” The holo-cam packed up faster than it had set up and the lights were easy to dismantle.
– – –
“Take us out facing away from the star. I don’t know how well the polarization works on this new windshield.” The shuttle lifted off of the ground slowly and started the assent out of the atmosphere. “I assume we’ll have no problem exiting the atmosphere this time?”
“If you’re asking if I messed with the flight parameters for the exit then the answer is no.” Janine glanced at Allie. “I assume that nobody else messed with the parameters themselves?”
Allie shook her head. “I don’t know an ampersand from a percent symbol. I couldn’t do that myself. Okay. We’re getting up to supersonic. We’ll be out of here in a flash.”
Janine glanced at Elinog. “So why did you fly down here when she’s the pilot?”
“Practice. It’s really annoying that she waited until I was piloting before she had you set up the turbulence.”
Blavet chuckled. “She probably considered it part of your training. You reacted instantly.”
“Why do you want to know how to fly?”
Elinog shook his head. “I know how to build a spaceship from pieces of other spaceships, but I couldn’t fly worth crap. Now I can fix ‘em and fly ‘em…most of them anyway. Sometimes I’m astonished at how counter intuitive control setups can be.”
“You should’ve seen the control setup mom had. She used her tail for half the controls. When dad had to pilot while she was pregnant with me he had to have two copilots.”
Blavet and Elinog burst into laughter while Janine just stared at them. “Did your father lose his tail or something?”
“Oh, no. Sorry I forgot you didn’t know. I’m half-human.” Blavet motioned towards his eyes. “The biggest giveaway is my human eyes. See how I have visible whites and irises on all three of my eyes? Most Emrys have no whites and only a few have visible irises. Also, my tail is about 15 cm shorter than average.”
– – –
Allie hailed the Dominiot. “AB-775, do you read?”
There was a short pause then a short burst of static. “I’m here. The ship’s still intact. There were no close calls with asteroids or anything.”
Janine sighed with exasperation and started up a data link with the Dominiot. “Somehow that makes me more worried because you listed asteroids specifically.”
“Oh, that means there was. He’s a bot. He’s terrible at lying.” Elinog also had a data link with the Dominiot running. “Camera 12 sector delta.”
“Nothing I can’t fix. Some subsystems look like they need cycled, but I can do that from here.” Janine tapped on her tablet a few times. “Purge initiated.”
Allie commed the ship again. “Ok, we’re approaching for docking procedures. Can you take control?”
“Yes, taking control now. I hope you enjoy flight AB-775!”
– – –
“The ship database has nothing on the wall scratches. It detected a pattern, but no corresponding data is available.” Janine frowned. “Well, I guess I’ll just send it through to SECO.” She turned the cockpit holo to astrogation and started doing the calculations for the FTL jump. AB-775 assisted, happy to finally be out of storage.
In the cargo hold of the Dominiot Blavet looked at the scratches on a holo display. Something looked familiar. He reached into the control cluster and mirrored the holo. Then he turned it upside down. The scratches suddenly took on a meaning. He turned to face Allie who was watching him work. “It’s in Thaumatish. The rough translation is ‘Life’.” He turned back to the hologram, studying the scratches again. “I think either it’s referring to how lush the planet is, or this is the reason the planet is so lush in the first place. I have to send this data to the council.”
Allie shook her head. “Will they take it seriously?”
“I’m sure they’ll send someone to look into it before SECO can. Their bureaucracy will slow them down.”
“So we just keep moving, then? You’re not even curious?”
Blavet shut off the hologram. “I’m curious. I just know I need to focus on my assignment. I have my own reason for seeking out the World of Souls you know.”
[RPG Corner is a monthly post where I talk about something related to Role-Playing Games.]
I decided that I wanted a recurring nemesis for a Star Wars campaign and then I thought, why not a Gungan?
I built Zala using the Inquisitor rules in Force and Destiny and I did not give her any Darkside powers as the campaign is an evil one. Unfortunately, the campaign ended up being a one-shot so she never appeared. Continue reading
[No specific details are included. Use your imagination if you must.]
Alaia stood at the foot of a statue of herself. The statue was wearing hardly anything, and it had a wine bottle in one hand. On the plaque was two words. The Goof. Of all the titles she could have gotten as a goddess The Goof was not one she had expected. Sighing Alaia walked into the temple. There were no benches or chairs in the temple, only large pillow-like mattresses. She smiled and sat on one of them. That was more like it. Continue reading
Lourek started pacing. Lukren had been gone for eight minutes and the dwarf was getting restless. “Should we wait two more minutes? I think we should go.”
Helena leaned against the wall and slowly stood up. “I think it would be best if we started moving. If he’s not in trouble we’ll meet up with him.” She paused as Sorley helped her finish standing. “If he’s in trouble getting there quicker will only help.”
A light became visible in the direction they were headed. It seemed to be coming towards them.
“Maybe that’s him now.” Sorley pointed at the light, torch in hand.
The soft plodding of fox paws started as Ember began to trot towards the light. “I’ll check it out.”
Ember looked back and nodded at Helena. “Of course.” Then she scampered forward, torch left behind.
– – –
The light wasn’t torchlight. But it also wasn’t one of those flameskull things. Ember watched as a small creature seemingly made of green fire floated slowly toward where Sorley and the others were. She tried to remember what the thing was called, but all she could think of were will o’ wisps, which this thing certainly wasn’t.
As it passed by Ember hid in a small crevice in the rock wall. The floating orb of light paused and seemed to notice her. It bobbed down to her eye level and floated there. Ember felt like she was being scrutinized by the light.
A small voice spoke within Ember’s mind. To Ember telepathy was something that only conveyed emotion or uncomplicated thoughts, but this was full on speech. What are you, little creature? You are no ordinary fox.
Ember tried to think back to the creature. I’m not. What are you?
I’m a light elemental. Call me Orby. The light did a little circle. I’m searching for Helena. Do you know where she is?
Before it could be stopped the image of Helena appeared in Ember’s mind. It showed her walking towards them.
Thank you. We can wait here then.
Ember nodded, uncertain if she had made a mistake or not.
– – –
Sorley felt the confusion in Ember’s mind and started walking faster.
“Oi, slow down. I can’t keep up.”
“Sorry. I’m getting confusion from Ember. I don’t think it’s Lukren that’s ahead. He didn’t have a torch with him anyway, did he?”
Lourek started moving more swiftly down the tunnel. “Well, I’m going to look for him. You can deal with whatever Ember found.”
Orby and Ember watched as Lourek walked past them at a quickened pace. He barely glanced at them as he continued forward.
Who’s that? Orby asked, floating in the direction Lourek had gone for a few feet then stopping. I think I saw another one earlier. He wasn’t in that much of a hurry though.
That’s Lourek. The one you saw before was probably Lukren.
Ember shook her head. So’s Orby.
Ember looked in the direction Lukren had come from and saw a torch coming closer. She focused on Sorley and tried to think to him like Orby was to her. Can you hear me?
The torch paused for a moment in the distance then started approaching faster than before. Could we always talk like this?
Ember hopped a few times, excited that she discovered a new layer to her connection to Sorley. I have no idea. I found the source of the light. It’s a light elemental that’s named Orby. It says it was looking for Helena.
– – –
Helena watched as Sorley’s face twisted into confusion then into excitement and back into confusion. He turned toward her and his expression became a questioning one.
“Do you know a light elemental that calls itself Orby?”
The name seemed familiar to Helena, but she couldn’t quite place it. “The name seems familiar for some reason. If I did know a light elemental, it was before…”
Sorley nodded. “Can we walk faster?”
“Yes, I think I can go a little faster.”
– – –
So, how do you know Helena? Ember asked. She was slowly walking in the direction of the torch-light and Orby had started to follow behind.
The elemental bobbed along, almost seeming to dance. I knew her when she was very little. She’s a dracomage you know. Dracomages bond with elementals. When the orcs attacked I was too small and weak to help her. She may not remember though. We’ve been apart for so long.
How long? Ember wondered why Helena wouldn’t remember. She was surely no older than Sorley was.
Forty years maybe. I can sense your confusion. Elves live a long time.
I think I knew that, on some level. Ember remembered Sorley’s lessons with his mother on the history of non-humans. It just never clicked.
Sorley and Helena paused in front of Ember and a floating orb of light. The two seemed to be having some sort of conversation and Ember bumped into Sorley.
“Oops. Sorry. Wasn’t paying attention.” Ember looked up at Sorley and Helena. “This is Orby. Orby this is Sorley, and this is Helena.” She pointed at them with her snout.
The green light floated up to Helena and floated near her wound. A wisp of light reached out and touched the bandage. Nice work. Seems to be healing nicely. Everyone was able to hear the elemental. I suppose I have Sorley to thank for the bandage? Orby floated up to Helena’s scale impression arm. Ah, a quick spell cast. Seems recent. That might be why I sensed where you were.
Helena started at the green orb. It was the same color as the fire she had conjured before. “Do I know you from somewhere?”
In response the elemental flowed into her arm and the scale pattern receded slightly. I am your focus. I can slow the scales, but only slightly. If you cast like you did before too often you will start growing scales. Helena, you vowed you would never grow scales. You didn’t want to be a battle mage.
The reminder of the vow brought some memories flooding back into Helena’s mind. The block had the taste of her mother within it. “Times change. I was merely ten when I made that vow. Mother blocked my memories. Though she couldn’t block the ones of The Leak.”
“We can’t hear it anymore. It’s only talking to you.” Sorley slowed down with Helena. “Can you still continue or do you need a moment?”
Before Helena could respond cries of agony echoed down the tunnel. It sounded like Lourek and Lukren. “Let’s go.”
I see memories of another rend. Is it in this cave?
Not now. We need to focus on the dwarves.
– – –
Lourek came upon Lukren who was fending off a small, undead creature. It looked similar to a skeleton except that it had dark tendrils seeping from it. Lourek had heard stories of this creature before. It was actually two creatures. One was the skeleton, the other was a shadow. Working together the two could take down more prey.
“Careful Lukren! That’s a shadow-skeleton!” Lourek rushed forward to help.
Lukren glanced back to see Lourek. “I told you ten minutes!” He smacked the shadow-skeleton with the flat of his blade. “Also, I know what it is!”
Lourek pulled the daggers from his back and closed in on the creature. Together the two dwarves made swift work of it.
“Well, Flaskheart. That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
“Aye, brother. Not bad at all.”
“Don’t call me brother!”
“Then don’t call me Flaskheart!”
The two dwarves broke into an argument, yelling at each other in dwarvish. While they were distracted another shadow-skeleton appeared from the darkness and sent tendrils of darkness toward them.
In unison the dwarves cried out in agony as they took massive damage. Their shadows started to disconnect from their bodies. In the dim light they were unable to tell what was happening at first. When they realized the predicament they were in they saw torchlight coming around a bend in the corridor. Sorley, Helena, and Ember stood in shock of what they saw, but they swiftly moved into an attack formation.
The arm where the faint scales were still visible on Helena glowed a strange green light as she pointed at the shadow-skeleton.